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There are 7 words that will really help you get a band 7 in IELTS Speaking, these words are not fancy-sounding words like ‘plethora’, ‘irrefutable’ or ‘phantasmagorical’– these are the 7 words and they are actually quite simple:

  1.  ‘if’. 
  2. ‘more’
  3. ‘to’ 
  4. ‘The’
  5. ‘Which’
  6. ‘So’
  7. ‘when’.

Now, to be honest it’s not really the words you need to think about. It’s the ideas, it’s expressing your ideas, through your experience, through your opinions. These words help you to express yourself and extend your ideas.

1) ‘if’

We can use ‘if’ very predictably to show cause and effect, and extend ideas. 

Use ‘if’ to talk about cause and effect. 

If I don’t get enough sleep, I feel terrible the next day.

If the sun is out, my house warms up quickly.

If people start recycling, it can make a big difference.

We can also use ‘if’ to criticise someone or something.

If people exercise more then maybe they’d be healthier.

If education systems were better, more people would understand this.

We can use ‘if’ to suggest solutions to problems.

If people want to solve these problems they will need to demand change from their leaders.

If people want change, they will have to make some sacrifices.

Or, if I studied with E2, I would pass my IELTS 😉

2) ‘more’

‘More’ is a very versatile word, and we use it a lot. It’s going to help you connecting and extending your ideas. It’s going to help you with your grammar, and it’s going to help you with your pronunciation as well. 

Using ‘more’ to extend your ideas.

The more I study, the more my test results improve.

The more we invest in energy research, the sooner we can start solving global warming.

Using comparative adjectives to extend ideas

We can also use comparative adjectives to say ‘more’– through the ‘er’ sound on the end. like fitter, happier, healthier.

The faster children develop healthier eating habits, the less likely they’ll grow up to suffer from diet-related diseases.

IELTS Speaking Part 1 example question

Example Question

What’s more important in your job, the work you do, or the people you work with?

Example Answer

Ah, it’s definitely the people. The nicer and more helpful your colleagues are, the more fun you have at work. 

Notice here how we’ve used the comparative adjectives nicer, more helpful and more fun.

We also should add stress to the words nicer and more fun, this is going to help with your IELTS pronunciation score.

Mark one of the expert-teachers at E2 says:

“as an ex IELTS examiner, I would have noticed that you’ve extended your ideas, you’re using more complex grammar, and you’re already using sentence stress quite effectively. So if you’re aiming for a seven or higher, you’re off to a pretty good start.”

3) ‘to’ and 4) ‘the’

These are two fantastic words to help you focus on connected speech, or linking, which is super important if you’re trying to get up to a seven or higher. In spoken speech, you’ll often hear ‘to’ and ‘the’ like this: 

I went to the gym yesterday.

I would go to the library at school.

I took the train to the zoo.

Making small improvements to your ability to link words together is going to have a huge impact on your score, it’s going to allow you to speak faster or slower, and maintain intelligibility. 

In this regard you can shorten ‘to’ and ‘the’ to sound like “t’th”

5) ‘which’

We can use ‘which’ to reflect upon something or we can use ‘which’ to show cause and effect

(Idea 1) which is important because…

(Idea 2) which is unfortunate because…

(Idea 3) which is strange because…

(Idea 4) which causes/ which may result in…

IELTS Speaking Part 1 example question

What is your favourite room in your house?

Example Answer

It’s definitely my bedroom. It’s got a big window that faces the east, which is wonderful, because in the morning, it fills my room with sunshine.

Notice which is a wonderful choice of word here because we are reflecting upon something and extending ideas.

6) ‘so’

So can be used at the end of a comparison of ideas or maybe a list of ideas so that you can show your final position or opinion on something. 

Use ‘so’ to conclude your points. Point 1. Point 2. Point 3. 

Very similar to ‘so’ is ‘in conclusion.’ However, you probably want to avoid using it in the speaking test. It’s more appropriate in writing. 

IELTS Speaking Part 1 example question

Who is more responsible for addressing the dangers of global warming, individuals or governments?

Example Answer

It depends, if individuals make an effort, they can accomplish a lot through recycling and living more sustainable lifestyles. But if governments set clear regulations, they can very strongly influence businesses to find more sustainable practices, which is important because they can create more pollution than individuals. So it’s probably governments who bear most of the responsibility. 

The example answer above is an excellent example of incorporating a few of the different techniques we’ve looked at. We’ve got ‘if’ for cause and effect and we’ve got ‘which is important’. And then you conclude the point very nicely.

7) ‘when’

Using ‘when’ is a great way to reflect on your own experiences and ideas. And it can be really helpful if you’re not totally sure what your idea is, it can help you think out loud before finally coming to your point. 

Use ‘when’ to reflect. 

When I studied at university.

When I was in Spain. 

When I was a teenager. 

IELTS Speaking Part 1 example question

What are some things people can do to improve their health?

Example Answer

Get exercise, these days, people just seem to be sitting a lot more, there seem to be a lot more things that force us to sit for longer and longer periods of time. I remember when I was younger, video games weren’t so popular. But now I constantly hear stories about young people playing video games a lot.

To improve the answer above we could use ‘so’ to really conclude the point. 

Mark, our E2 Expert said:

 “To be honest, it’s not really the words you need to think about. It’s the ideas, it’s expressing your ideas, through your experience, through your opinions. And that’ll give you the opportunity to use the more complex grammar.”

Let’s recap those seven words.

  1.  ‘if’. 
  2. ‘more’
  3. ‘to’ 
  4. ‘The’
  5. ‘Which’
  6. ‘So’
  7. ‘when’.

Use these 7 words to help structure your speaking. Remember, lead with your ideas, your experience and your positions. Let the language describe what you’re thinking. 

Watch our for 7 words to IELTS Band 7

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